As temperatures creep up, it’s tempting to want to crank up your air to full blast (hellooo, increased electricity bill). But just because the temperatures are rising doesn’t mean we can—or should—recklessly use resources that are both costly and environmentally unfriendly. Fortunately, there are plenty of energy efficient ways to cool your home that are friendly to your wallet and the planet.
Experts say that embracing those strategies can offer some serious perks. “Personal conservation is important because it benefits us and the planet in myriad ways,” says Ashlee Piper, sustainability expert and author of Give a Sh*t: Do Good. Live Better. Save the Planet.
She says the average American household uses more than 11,000 kilowatthours (kWh) of power each year. “That’s double that of French households and triple that of Chinese households, which is pretty egregious when we consider that [an estimated] 1.1 billion people worldwide don’t even have access to electricity. So, lessening our reliance on resources, be it water, electricity, etc., is not just good for the planet, but it’s better ideologically if we want a more just world.”
So, ready to chill out and do better this summer season? Below, Piper shares seven simple, energy efficient ways to cool your home even when it’s super-hot outside.
7 energy efficient ways to cool your home, no matter how hot it is outside
1. Use fans instead of air conditioning units
“Opening windows and having fans instead of AC units and central air blasting all day may sound extremely rudimentary, but people get by with these just fine,” says Piper. Keep in mind that she’s not recommending you throw out your AC. Rather, she suggests using it in moderation and turning it off when you’re gone instead (provided you don’t have pets at home that need to stay cool). “Be realistic about your temperature needs by using the eco setting, which intuits what the room temp is and adjusts output accordingly,” Piper adds.
2. Mist your bed with cool water
Here’s a tip Piper’s anti-air-conditioning friend once shared with her: At night, mist your bed with cold water from the fridge, then turn your fan on by the bed. “This creates an evaporative cooling effect that will allow you to sleep more comfortably, even in sweltering temps,” she says.
3. Keep your refrigerator closed.
Don’t know what to eat? Well, avoid standing in front of your fridge as you decide. Only open it for as long as necessary, and keep both the fridge and freezer on as low temps as possible for keeping your food cool or frozen. “[Refrigerators] work extra hard in hot weather, and standing by an open fridge door lets out all the cool air and makes your fridge work even harder, thus using more energy,” says Piper.
4. Turn off (or down) the lights.
Piper points out that lights can generate heat. So, turn down or turn off the lights whenever you can manage without them. You can also hang light-blocking curtains to keep your space cool without using any electricity.
5. Be mindful of oven use when cooking.
“Whenever you can, cook with heat less,” says Piper. “Who wants to deal with that in the dead of summer anyway?” She also recommends using a single induction burner to lessen the gas and electric load.
6. Wash clothes with cool water, then air dry.
“Washing on cold should be a year-round practice, but also skip the dryer and opt for a drying rack in your space or line drying outside, if you have access,” says Piper. Whether you have a backyard for a clothesline or a small bedroom, hang-drying your clothes can spare you plenty of electricity (and money) spent on drying cycles while also not relying on heat-generating appliances.
7. Take colder, shorter showers.
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